The NRL held its season launch last night and CEO Dave Smith’s message was simple.
“The game has never been more healthy. It has never been so strong. The 2014 season is going to be bigger and better than ever,’’ he said.
Sydney Roosters captain Anthony Minichello, recently branded as the face of the game, also helped launch the season.
“Like everyone here tonight, I can’t wait for the season to start,’’ he said.
“Even though a ball hasn’t been kicked, we already have plenty to celebrate. The footy gets more exciting every season.”
Held at the Sydney exhibition centre on Glebe Island last night in front of a 600-strong crowd that included players, officials, club members and sponsors, Smith was optimistic about the upcoming season.
Smith was proud of the terrific pre-season with the success of the Auckland Nines, The World Club Challenge and the Charity Shield with the NRL reporting a $50million profit for the 2013 financial year.
“So it’s been an amazing few weeks, the best pre-season in many years. One to whet the appetite of all of our members and fans, and members and fans is where much of our focus will be in 2014.
“On top of this, the NRL has delivered its strongest financial performance on record and set out a clear strategy for the future.”
In another win for footy fans, Smith also announced a new major initiative. Punters who have tickets to any of the 27 games at ANZ Stadium this season will have free travel via public transport to and from the game as part of a $2million drive to enhance the fan experience.
The NRL season starts on Thursday, March 6, when defending premiers the Roosters continue a 104-year rivalry with South Sydney. – Luke Mahoney
Top screenshot from Fox Sports video.